Your Guide to the Differences Between Beginner Instruments and Instruments Made for Professionals

Five students have fun playing beginner instruments in a band.
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The musical instruments played by beginner students are not the same as what a professional will play. Beginner instruments are built to be easy to play, but also to take a beating from someone still figuring out how to handle them. A professional’s instruments will be made of high-quality materials, or they may have some features not included in a beginners instruments. 

It’s probably a good time to upgrade from your student instrument if you’ve been playing music for a little while and feel relatively comfortable playing basic chords, melodies, or rhythms. Plus, playing an instrument is good for you, regardless of whether that instrument is meant for a pro or a student. 

This guide will walk you through some of the differences between beginner vs. professional instruments, and how to know when it’s a good time to upgrade. 

The Basic Differences in Beginner Instruments vs. Professional Instruments

beginner instruments

Most beginning music students or those new to the music world are probably playing music with beginner instruments. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Instruments for students are often less expensive, so they give beginners the chance to get familiar with an instrument before making a bigger investment. 
  • Beginner instruments are also usually basic versions, with fewer parts. 
  • This way, new students get a feel for some of the functionality, and if the instrument is a good fit, they can later move up to something more detailed.

Do you think you might be ready to move up? Any student familiar with their instrument, including how to create melody, rhythm, and even play a few basic songs in the correct timing, might be wondering if it’s time to upgrade. A professional instrument will help you develop greater skill and make more enjoyable music, so it can be exciting to start looking at them.

When To Use a Beginner Instrument

beginner drums

Student instruments are designed to help beginning musicians learn the basics of playing. The instruments are made with simple materials and are not necessarily designed for durability. The basic instrument probably won’t last your whole music playing career, but it should serve the following purposes:

When You’re First Learning to Play 

Beginner instruments are fantastic for anyone first learning to play. By opting for a lower-quality and less-expensive instrument, you’ll get to practice playing without worrying whether you’re doing anything wrong. This will give you the chance to get familiar with a new guitar or drum set without fear of damaging it. You will get a sense of the durability of your instrument and will get used to playing it. 

basics of beginner drum lessons

When You’re Trying Out Different Instruments

For anyone still deciding which instrument is right for you, beginner instruments are a great option because you won’t have to commit until you are sure you like the instrument. The cost of a professional-quality instrument will make switching a harder decision. By opting for beginner instruments while you are still deciding, you can explore the options without getting stuck. 

If You’re Hard on Your Musical Equipment 

It can be a good idea to use a basic, less-expensive instrument if you are clumsy or rough with your instrument. Those who plan to take it back and forth from lessons and other places might also be wise to pick a basic instrument that doesn’t cost a lot, because carrying it around can cause it to get beat up a bit. Even professional musicians sometimes have a spare beginner instrument that they can be a bit harder on while traveling.  

Beginner instruments, for the most part, are good for just that: beginners. It’s a great chance to get to know if the instrument is well suited for you, and it’s also good to have one as a spare, just in case. Try working with a music school if you’re not sure whether you should have a beginner or professional option. They’ll be able to guide you in choosing the best-fit instrument.

What Distinguishes Beginner Instruments From Professional Ones?

beginner violin

A professional instrument takes the music-making experience to a new level. Playing with one is a good idea when you’ve been practicing quite a bit and want to elevate your playing skills. A few of the main reasons to look at upgrading include: 

Great Sound Quality 

A professional instrument plays better-quality sounds. You can expect clear, crisp notes that are just better than what you’ll get from a beginner instrument, making it easier and more fun for a musician to play. 

Built With Good Craftsmanship 

A professional instrument is almost always constructed with classic techniques that go way beyond what goes into making a student instrument. Most companies that craft them have been in business for years, so they are expected to make quality instruments.

High-End Materials 

A key part of building a beautifully crafted instrument is to use high-end materials. Professional instruments are made with the highest-quality woods, fiberglass, or composite parts, and they are built to last.

New Music Opportunities 

Be ready to be dazzled when your professional musical instrument creates music that is sharper and clearer than a beginner instrument. It may be enough, if your skill level is ready, to motivate you to explore new musical opportunities, such as joining a band, playing gigs, or pursuing a seat in an orchestra . The sound quality of your professional instrument will soar above that of a student instrument, and it will give you the edge over other musicians. 

It’s a safe bet that anyone who loves playing their beginner instrument will be blown away by the sound and the experience of playing a nicely crafted instrument made for a pro. A professional musical instrument is a great choice for anyone who is committed to playing, and ready to improve the music they’re playing. 

Upgrading to a Professional Instrument

professional instruments

Those thinking about making the switch to a higher-caliber instrument should consider how well they play and how far they want to take their musical hobby. These are a few factors that can influence your decision on whether to upgrade instruments:

You’re Committed to Playing Music 

Playing music on beginner instruments for a while has probably gotten you comfortable with how it works. You’ve got a good idea of whether you’re interested in continuing to play, or whether you leave your instrument in its carrying case most of the time. If you are committed to playing, go ahead and upgrade. The music from a professional instrument will be of better quality and you’ll feel great playing it. 

Ready for Growth 

After you’ve been regularly practicing and are accustomed to playing, you may outgrow your student instrument. A musician who feels that their beginner instrument is holding them back is probably ready to switch to a professional instrument.

Feeling Limited by a Basic Instrument 

A student instrument can only take you so far. It’s a good time to upgrade if you can’t express your musical aptitude well enough through your basic instrument. 

Maybe the simplest measurement is this: If your beginner instrument has brought you a sincere love of music that you can’t imagine losing, and if you want to take that passion to new heights, that’s a great sign that you should upgrade. If you’re not sure if your skills merit upgrading, contact a professional music school for guidance. 

An Expert Can Help You Decide Whether You’re Ready to Upgrade Your Instrument

Your Guide to the Differences Between Beginner Instruments and Instruments Made for Professionals 1

The pleasures of being a musician are certainly amplified by playing on a quality instrument. Sloan School of Music is a team of passionate musicians, and we can help you decide whether it’s time for an upgrade and help you choose the instrument for you. 

If you have questions about upgrading to a professional instrument, contact  Sloan School of Music today to speak to an expert.